This is going to be a short post as I am in the final days of NANOWRIMO. In fact, I have been making such amazing headway in a small town series I am developing, that I forgot that I still had a post to write for this Saturday series.  I know, I said Saturday, and this is Sunday; I am a day late, again. Sigh.

The fourth topic in my series Weapons in my Armoury is Research.

Unless one writes fantasy fiction, in which the worlds are completely made up, there is going to be research for any story a writer undertakes. I am a part of a writing group that has writers at various stages of their careers. One of them is a Romance author with thirty-four books published to date, the next coming out in January. She puts out six books a year in her specific Romance sub-group which is Erotic Fantasy. I remember when we discussed research, she laughed and said, I don’t research, I make it all up. Sometimes I envy her, but only sometimes. The instances of envy arise mainly when I am going along great guns and realize I am missing something, and I have to interrupt the flow of either writing or revision and go do that extra research.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE research. If I could make a living writing research papers I would. Especially if I could research somewhere like this:


Historical Fiction is my first love; well, a good story is my first love, but put it in a historical setting then I am completely captured as a reader. When I was writing my first attempt at a novel (not yet finished),  which is a work of historical fiction, I got only so far when I realized that I had to do much more research and I didn’t know how. I really didn’t have the research skills needed to write historical fiction. Or should I say, good historical fiction, I find there is nothing more frustrating than coming across historical inaccuracies that could have been avoided by taking some time to research the period in which the story is set.

Another thing I love about research is how it has the ability to populate my stories with characters and daily tasks and other events in their lives. In that first historical novel, I was struggling with getting the main character from point A to point B. When I was reading something that was completely unrelated to the character’s circumstances, an answer came to me, and a new set of characters arrived to take him on his adventure.

When I was at University getting my Medieval Studies undergraduate degree, there were numerous times when I was taking notes in class that I would write novel notes on the top of the pages. I used a multi-coloured pen: one colour was set aside for writing and novel notes so they would jump out later.  There was one professor especially from whom I received so much inspiration for that book and ideas for others.

For my contemporary fiction projects research is more about seeking out and interviewing people with specific backgrounds similar to my characters, and scouting locations. When I scout a location, I look for sights and sounds of that specific environment. What would my characters be seeing and hearing in that specific location.

For example, in my current project, the setting is modern day Victoria. I am a resident of Victoria, and have been for a good part of my life, but there are still places that I have not seen and things I have not experienced. I have gone out on several day trips to put myself in the various settings for my characters.

Specifically, one of my characters lives on a boat. I have never lived on a boat, and as someone who suffers terribly with motion sickness, I would never live on a boat. I was sitting in my Sunday writing group one day, and I said out loud that I needed to meet and talk to someone who lives on a boat. A friend put up her hand, “I know someone” she said, then promptly picked up her phone and sent a text. A week or so later I was interviewing her friend and partner on their boat. They were even so generous as to allow me to stay a night on the boat when they were ashore for a weekend shortly after the interview.  You can read about that watery excursion in a previous blog post here and here.

Every character in any work of fiction I am writing has a history and backstory that is not my own, therefore, seeking out people from whom I can glean information and experiences is certainly a fun aspect to my work and as a result it not only enriches the lives of my characters, it enriches my life as well.

2 thoughts on “Weapons in my Armoury – Research”

    1. Thanks for the comment Deanne. Once this month is done, I’m going to refocus on the revision and editing of the book. Hopefully I’ll make some decent headway before the new year.

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